A warehouse execution system is software that manages, optimizes and directs the physical work processes (picking, receiving, replenishment, etc.) in a warehouse or distribution center. A WES typically integrates with a warehouse management system (WMS), enterprise resource planning system (ERP) or other inventory management software.
Warehouse execution systems have been around in various forms since the early 2000s. They provide DCs with flexible and efficient material handling processes – both automated and manual. While WMS systems typically include system-directed picking, replenishment and other functions, WES systems add sophisticated process optimization capabilities. WES vastly improve the productivity, efficiency and throughput of core DC activities. WES systems take two main forms – automated WES and manual WES.
Two Types of Warehouse Execution Systems
1) Automated Warehouse Execution Systems
Many of today’s WES products evolved from an existing warehouse control system (WCS). WCS software controls conveyors, sorters and other warehouse automation that move totes, cases and pallets within a facility.
In effect, automated warehouse execution systems combine a WCS with a layer of work planning, release and management capabilities. They coordinate and synchronize the handling and movement of products via automation.
Some WES products may also manage pick-to-light or put-to-light systems, but they typically do not direct the work performed by people. Instead, most WES systems defer to a WMS or other system to direct manual picking and other processes.
2) Manual or Next Generation Execution Systems
Warehouse optimization solutions are similar to warehouse execution systems, but offer more intelligence, orchestration and optimization across the most important processes in distribution centers.
Beyond just optimizing people, warehouse optimization solutions help DCs orchestrate and optimize resources – people, robots, inventory – across IT and automation systems.
More specifically, the Lucas Warehouse Optimization Suite features Jennifer™, the brain, voice, and orchestration engine that drives performance improvement gains. Jennifer™ incorporates a variety of AI, machine learning and other decision making technologies that are used to optimize and orchestrate DC operations.
Beyond using AI and advanced modeling technology to optimize workflows and processes, Lucas also provides multi-modal mobile applications that improve the mechanics of hands-on tasks using voice direction, speech recognition, barcode scanning, display technology and other mobile technologies.
Lucas uses order, inventory, and task information from a DC’s inventory planning system (WMS or other) and reuses and extends existing WCS (and automated WES) systems.